Tag Archives: John McCain

Hey, Mr. POTUS, McCain just doesn’t get scared

I have this hunch that John McCain isn’t one bit intimidated by the commander in chief, the head of state of the greatest nation on Earth.

The Arizona Republican senator has just announced his opposition to the latest Senate GOP effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He has enraged Donald Trump. The president has responded with his usual rant about McCain being disloyal to the Republican Party and to the president.

I’m going to give Sen. McCain all the respect in the world.

He said he cannot “in good conscience” support the ACA repeal effort. His stated opposition is steeped mostly in the bum’s rush process that has pushed this legislation forward. The GOP did it once again with no help from Democrats. McCain has called for a return to “regular order.” Senate Republicans ignored one of their own.

But you see, McCain is the midst of quite an important battle that has not a damn thing to do with politics. He is fighting for his life. McCain has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. He is undergoing some therapy to battle the disease. But he’s back at work. He is standing up for himself, for his constituents in Arizona and against the president.

You know, of course, about McCain’s other big struggle that has nothing to do with politics. He was a Navy pilot in 1967 when he got shot down over Hanoi, North Vietnam. He was taken prisoner. He was beaten incessantly and suffered many other forms of physical and emotional torture for more than five years.

Does anyone in this country really believe that this war hero is going to be intimidated by a politician? Moreover, does anyone further believe that this man — who’s currently engaged in the fight of his life — is going to be cowed by threats over a decision he has made regarding a mere public policy initiative?

I have not always been a fan of Sen. McCain. I did not vote for him in 2008 when he ran for president against Barack H. Obama. I haven’t always liked the tone he has taken in criticizing his former presidential campaign foe.

However, I’ve never lost respect for the life he has lived and the service he has given to this country. Nor have I ever stopped respecting the extreme hardship he has endured while serving the country he loves so much.

He has stood up to the head of his political party, the president of the United States. Sen. McCain is setting an example of leadership.

Count me now as one of this man’s biggest fans.

Is the party over for ACA repeal? Let’s hope so

On the day earlier this summer when he voted “no” on a plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., made an impassioned plea for the body where he has served for three decades to return to “regular order.”

Meaning that both parties, Democrats and Republicans, need to work for common ground, to seek compromise, to actually get things done for the good of the citizens they all serve.

The Vietnam War hero’s plea fell on deaf ears. Senate Republicans decided — against logic and good judgment — to proceed yet again with a GOP-only repeal of the ACA.

Sen. McCain has stuck the shiv into the GOP’s efforts by announcing he plans to vote “no” once again on this ACA repeal effort. It likely blows the effort to smithereens. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will vote against it because it doesn’t go far enough in getting rid of the vestiges of the ACA; Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is a likely “no” vote, as is Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

Senate Republicans — who have hardly any room for defections given their slim Senate majority — face a Sept. 30 deadline to get this deal done with a 50-vote plus one (Vice President Mike Pence) majority; after that, Senate rules return to a 60-vote supermajority requirement.

So, what about that “regular order” thing that McCain sought earlier this year?

The ACA isn’t perfect. It likely isn’t even a good piece of legislation. Barack Obama’s signature bill needs work. It needs to be amended, nipped and tucked. To do that, though, requires that “regular order” that McCain wants to see restored. That would mean bipartisan cooperation, the search for commonality.

That’s how legislation gets done.

President Lyndon Johnson knew how to legislate. He employed his overpowering persuasive skills to bring Republicans along. President Richard Nixon was no slouch, either, at working with Democrats. Nor were Presidents Ford, Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton or Bush 43.

President Obama needed to work better at developing that skill. Then again, the Republican intransigence was too big a hurdle for him to overcome.

Sen. McCain has called repeatedly for a return to the old way of legislating. His decision today only drives home that call even more deeply.

The question now becomes: Is anyone in a leadership position going to heed those calls ever again on Capitol Hill?

Now the ‘Vietnam’ series is getting serious

PBS is taking a couple of days off leading us down the trail of tragedy that was the Vietnam War.

Episode Four aired tonight and I was gripped by a brief segment contained within it. I’ll need a couple of days to catch my breath before the Ken Burns-Lynn Novick documentary special returns Sunday night.

“The Vietnam War” is walking us through the war year by year. Tonight it took us to the end of 1967. In January of the following year, the Tet Offensive erupted — and it changed everything.

Tonight, though, we saw a brief segment of a young Navy aviator being questioned by his captors in Hanoi. The aviator was lying on a bed, telling the world that he loved his wife. He was in great pain, having been injured when he parachuted from his stricken jet fighter into a Hanoi lake.

John McCain III would spend more than five years as a prisoner of war. He would be tortured, beaten to within an inch of his life. He would be put in solitary confinement. He would be offered an early release, but would refuse it because he didn’t want to give the enemy a propaganda tool, given that his father, Adm. John McCain Jr., was a senior Navy officer. Nor did he want to dishonor himself in the presence of his POW brethren. He would be tortured anew for his refusal to be released early.

And, yes … I thought of how the current president of the United States disparaged McCain’s heroic Vietnam War service while he was running for the presidency. Donald John Trump Sr. didn’t serve in the military during that terrible conflict, yet he blurted out that McCain was a “hero only because he was captured; I like people who aren’t captured, OK?”

I am reminded of a brief segment at the 2008 Al Smith Memorial Dinner featured Sens. McCain and Barack Obama, who were in the middle of a tough campaign for the presidency. The event is done in good fun and it raises money for the Roman Catholic Diocese in New York in memory of the late New York Gov. Al Smith.

Near the end of his hilarious comic riff, Sen. Obama took a moment to tell the audience that “few Americans have served their country with the distinction and honor” that John McCain has demonstrated.

The PBS documentary and the segment with Sen. McCain lying on that Hanoi bed was tough to watch. It simply reminded me, though, of what heroism looks like.

A moment of civility and honor

I feel the need to share this video before it recedes too far into the nation’s political background.

U.S. Sen. John McCain pays tribute in this brief video to his longtime friend and colleague, Vice President Joe Biden.

Why show this clip here? Today?

These are seriously contentious times. The vice president was about to leave office after nearly four decades serving in the Senate and as the nation’s No. 2 elected official. Sen. McCain acknowledges that he and Biden didn’t always agree on public policy. They argued, sometimes vigorously.

But it serves us all well to know that men who were political opponents could remain friends, a sentiment that McCain expresses with stunning eloquence in his Senate floor speech.

He was among many senators who rose to pay tribute to Biden as the VP prepared to leave public life.

It remains my hope — to which I’ll cling stubbornly — that we can find a way back to a more genteel era on Capitol Hill. Some of the current cast of characters in the spotlight today make it difficult to imagine such a return occurring any time soon — if ever!

I will admit to getting pretty damn worked up myself over the conduct of many of those characters. I’ve said some harsh things in this blog. I won’t retract them, but I’ll seek to do a better job moving ahead at maintaining a more civil tone, even though I sit way out here in the proverbial peanut gallery, far from where the action is.

Recalling the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s one-time campaign battle cry, I’ll continue to “keep hope alive” that decorum will return to the political debate.

Sen. McCain — the Vietnam War hero and a ferocious advocate for his own public policy views — offers us an example of what we need in the halls of power.

Sen. McCain won’t get bulldozed

I couldn’t help but think of a man I used to know way back when.

The late Bill Brooks was sheriff of Clackamas County, Ore. He got appointed to the job in 1983 after Paul McAllister resigned. Almost immediately after being appointed, Brooks announced he would seek election the next year.

I asked him about the swift announcement of his election campaign, to which Brooks responded: “If I didn’t run for election, I’d be bulldozed … and I don’t bulldoze worth a s***.”

Brooks was elected in 1984 and re-elected in 1988.

Why think of Sheriff Brooks today? Because I read an essay by another crusty fellow, Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain, who penned a piece in the Washington Post in which he declared that he doesn’t work for Donald J. Trump.

McCain’s essay calls for a return to “regular order” on Capitol Hill and he has an answer for Trump’s effort to bully Congress to do his bidding. McCain writes:

We must respect his authority and constitutional responsibilities. We must, where we can, cooperate with him. But we are not his subordinates. We don’t answer to him. We answer to the American people. We must be diligent in discharging our responsibility to serve as a check on his power. And we should value our identity as members of Congress more than our partisan affiliation.

Do you know what I read in that passage? It is that McCain is about to be “bulldozed” by the president of the United States.

Read the essay here.

McCain goes on to point out the obvious, which is that Trump became president with zero government experience, or even exposure to government operations.

He is highly critical of Trump, who he calls “impulsive” and often ignorant of the details of policy. He said Congress must step up and do its job as set forth in the Constitution. He writes: That has never been truer than today, when Congress must govern with a president who has no experience of public office, is often poorly informed and can be impulsive in his speech and conduct.

I believe the former sheriff who I covered as a reporter and editor in Oregon — and with whom I became a friend — would be proud of Sen. McCain standing up to the threat of a presidential bulldozer.

McCain’s ‘no’ vote on ACA repeal appears to be personal

This is a brief tale of two politicians.

One of them is Donald J. Trump; the other is John S. McCain III. They have an intense dislike for each other. They’re both of the same political party; they’re Republicans.

Trump entered politics in June 2015 when he decided to run for president of the United States. It was his first political campaign. He’d never sought any other public office. He touted his wealth and his business acumen. He promised to “make America great again.”

He got elected president.

McCain has been in politics for a long time. He retired from the Navy and then was elected to the U.S. House from Arizona. Then he went on to the Senate. He’s been in public office for more than three decades. Oh, and he was a fighter pilot who in 1967 got shot down over Hanoi, North Vietnam. He was captured and held as a prisoner for the rest of the Vietnam War.

While running for president, Trump was asked about McCain’s service and whether he considered the former POW a “war hero.” Trump’s answer is still echoing. “He’s a war hero because he got captured,” Trump said. “I like people who aren’t captured.”

McCain heard that. I’m wondering: Do you suppose he took serious offense at that snarky response? Do you believe he felt disrespected, that the candidate denigrated his service? And how do you suppose McCain felt knowing that Trump avoided service in the war that took such a savage toll on his own body? McCain was injured badly when his plane was shot down. He suffered broken limbs that never were set properly by his captors. He endured torture, isolation, and intense verbal and emotional abuse.

The public service stories of these two men cannot be more different. One of them had zero public service experience until he assumed his high office; the other man spent years in the military before becoming a politician. He paid dearly for his military service.

The men’s political journeys crossed not long ago when McCain ended up voting “no” on a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, something that Trump wanted. He had banked on McCain to be on his side. McCain would have none of it.

McCain, by the way, had just been diagnosed as having a malignant brain tumor. He came back to the Capitol Building to cast his “no” vote.

I am left to ponder now — weeks after Sen. McCain cast that fateful vote against ACA repeal — whether Donald Trump doomed the ACA vote with that idiotic, disrespectful and utterly gratuitous dig at a war hero’s service to his country.

In a perfect world, public policy shouldn’t hinge on personal slights. I think it did this time. I’m glad it did. John McCain deserved better than he got from the man who would become president. But he delivered his response with perfection.

Donald Trump had it coming.

Trump’s lack of compassion on full display

Donald John Trump Sr.’s grotesque lack of compassion became evident yet again Tuesday night while he was railing against Arizona’s two Republican U.S. senators.

One of them, John McCain, is battling brain cancer. Doctors performed surgery recently to remove a cyst near his left eye and discovered an aggressive malignancy in his brain.

I don’t know what the doctors have told McCain about his prognosis. That’s for the senator and his family to know.

Did the president say a word of concern, or care, or compassion about his fellow Republican? Did he offer any prayers from his family to the senator’s? Did he wish him a speedy and full recovery?

Oh, no. The president ventured onto McCain’s turf — his home state of Arizona — and ranted, raved and ridiculed the senator.

I must add, by the way, that the senator has served his country with more honor, heroism and bravery than the president ever imagined. His experience as a prisoner during the Vietnam War alone would be enough to bestow such high praise.

OK, the president didn’t say it. I’ll offer yet again a good word to the stricken senator. Get well, sir. Thank you for your stellar service to our great nation.

Will POTUS continue his search for peace and harmony?

The president of the United States sought to lay out a new strategy for fighting the Afghan War.

He began his speech Monday night, though, with what I perceived in the moment to be a curious diversion from the topic at hand. He spoke about peace, harmony, understanding and love. He said he wants our brave warriors fighting overseas to return to a country in which all citizens feel equally loved by their fellow Americans.

I thought it was an interesting — and welcome — appeal in the aftermath of the Charlottesville, Va., riot that was ignited by hate groups marching and counter protesters clashing with them.

So here’s where I’m heading with this: Is the president going to continue that theme tonight when he steps in front of cheering throngs in Phoenix, Ariz.? It’s billed as a campaign rally. You know how those involving Donald Trump usually turnout, yes? They get raucous. The president flies “off script.” He starts hurling insults around. The crowd cheers. The president basks in the adulation he hears in the throaty yells.

Trump is going to a state represented in the U.S. Senate by two Republicans — John McCain and Jeff Flake — who’ve been openly critical of him. Trump has responded with insults he has hurled back at them. Sen. Flake is facing a GOP primary challenge and the president has taken the highly unusual step of appearing to back his opponent.

The nation is in the middle of an intense discussion about race relations in light of what happened in Charlottesville. Will the president respond in a positive way to that discussion, or will he pour fuel onto that wildfire with more of his intemperate rhetoric?

My hope is that he’ll listen to the calmer angels that might be trying to be heard above the din. My fear is that he’ll ignore them and go with the shouters.

Before we start throwing dirt on Trump …

I am about to depress some readers of this blog; other readers might take heart in what I am about to say.

Before we start writing Donald John Trump Sr.’s political obituary, I feel compelled to remind us all — even those of us who oppose this man’s presidency — that this guy is the consummate political survivor.

How many “last straws” has this clown managed to pick up and toss aside? Sen. John McCain is a “war hero only because he was captured”; the mocking of a New York Times reporter’s physical handicap; the disparaging of a Gold Star family; the “Access Hollywood” recording of Trump boasting of grabbing women by their … whatever; the constant lying.

He’s now in trouble — supposedly — because of remarks he has made about white supremacists and neo-Nazis. He’s been applauded by ex-KKK grand lizard David Duke. His statements about the Charlottesville riot have been appalling in the extreme. Republicans are turning their back on the president.

Does any of this produce a death knell for this man’s presidency?

Any one or all of the aforementioned hideous examples should have derailed his ride to the White House. They didn’t. His base hung with him. He got elected.

Trump has made an absolute mess of his high office. And oh yes, he has that “Russia thing” under investigation by a dogged, meticulous special prosecutor.

Do not, though, think he’s a goner. At least not just yet.

There. Now I just depressed myself. Damn!

POTUS shows us once more he is unfit for his office

This video is about 23 minutes long. If you have the time — and if you have the stomach for it — take some time to watch it.

You will witness the president of the United States demonstrate a remarkable implosion. Donald John Trump Sr. said many astonishing things during this press conference on the ground floor of Trump Tower.

He reverted back to his “many sides” argument in response to the Charlottesville, Va., riot that was provoked by white nationalists/neo-Nazis/Ku Klux Klansmen protesting the removal of a Confederate statue.

Trump accused the so-called “alt-left” of attacking the racists.

The president once again blamed the media for its coverage of the event over the weekend, saying that the media were “unfair” in their reportage of the white supremacists.

POTUS also took shots at Sen. John McCain for voting against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, as well as at “fake news” outlets and their representatives.

It was an astonishing display of maximum petulance today at Trump Tower.

The president in effect reverted to form this afternoon. He exhibited compelling evidence that his initial response to the Charlottesville event — where he said “many sides” were to blame for the violence — came from his gut and that his more restrained response delivered Monday was canned, strained and done against his will.

Oh, and he conflated the American Revolution with the Civil War, noting that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, as did the leaders of the Confederate States of America. He asked, then, if it’s time to remove statues of the Father of Our Country and the author of the Declaration of Independence.

My head is about to explode.

I watched every moment of Donald Trump’s disgraceful display this afternoon. I still cannot believe what I witnessed.

Take a look at the video.